Cultural exchange program connects doll makers in Tryon, Ghana

Published 4:09 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yvonne Plange The embassy has been supportive from the beginning, organizers say, and children working with the project on this side of the Atlantic have sent pen-pal letters along with maps of Tryon and North Carolina as well as school supplies, magazines and copies of the Tryon Daily Bulletin.

&dquo;We won&squo;t realize the full impact of this project for some time&dquo; said Margaret Feagan, a principal with BNESCO. &dquo;But that&squo;s okay.&bsp; At BNESCO we take the long view and focus on sustainability over the immediate excitement generated by an announcement of one of our projects. Right now, everyone is engaged and through the generosity of the Nancy DuPre Menke Fund we are able to make decisions that move our mission forward.&dquo;

BNESCO is a network of field thought-laboratories in rural communities that support idea generation, project development, funding security, strategy implementation, and benchmarking to compete with non-rural environments where resources are plentiful. BNESCO supports ideas that support the production of ideas.

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For Plange in Ghana, her business began with an idea about two decades ago. Yvonne Teteley Plange was born in Accra, Ghana in 1967 and is the daughter of the late saxophonist Peter Arthur Plange and Janet Teiko Simone.&bsp; Plange was educated in Accra and studied general arts at Holy Trinity Cathedral Secondary School.

Plange says she has always loved sewing, drawing and designing and decided to concentrate in these areas while at school. By combining her love of history with her hobbies and developing a healthy entrepreneurial spirit, she was able to create her own niche in the Ghana capital. But it was not easy ‐ and it did not happen overnight.&bsp; Success took time, commitment and a lot of hard work, according to Plange. Plange said her parents wanted her to be a secretary but she had very little interest in taking it up as a profession.

After completing her studies at Holy Trinity Cathedral, she entered the job market and found her own way into the world of trading in Accra, Ghana. In 1989 she merged her hobbies with her entrepreneurial ideas and started creating crafted doll prototypes.&bsp; When she was in town one day, she saw similar dolls selling in a local shop, so she contacted the shop owner and was told to bring her dolls by to see if they would sell.

&dquo;Lo and behold ‐ three dolls sold&dquo; says Plange. This was the beginning of Yvonne Plange Entreprise, which she grew slowly and registered in 1996. She started attending trade bazaars in Accra and supplying shops and hotels with her dolls and participating in various exhibitions around the region.

Plange&squo;s dolls are made of locally available materials such as soft cotton and she quickly found herself in full production exporting her craft-work to the U.S. through buyers for Marshalls, T.J Max and Costplus World Market. She has also organized various exhibitions for Pier One Imports.

For more information on BNESCO or updates on the Tryon/Ghana Doll Exchange, Google ‐ Bountiful Neighborhood BNESCO.